Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale

While Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale hasn’t gotten a ton of play from The Daily Pletteau, I couldn’t resist picking it up the other day for the PS3 (and a free version for the Vita, of course.)

LittleBigPlanet’s Sackboy launches… cake at Toro Inoue.

Having played it for some time, I can safely say that it is a pretty solid fighter — definitely not a Super Smash Brothers clone (though not as good as those games which, in PSASBR’s defense, is perhaps one of the best fighting game series of all time), but a very good game in its own right.

The game’s roster, while notably Snake-free, is fairly solid, with characters from throughout Playstation’s fairly long lifespan. We’re left with no Final Fantasy characters, though, and as I mentioned, no Snake (not Naked, Solid, Liquid, or Solidus — not even Liquidus!), and a few other ones that you’d expect to be in this kind of game. I’m relatively new to the Playstation scene, having not really owned a PS1 in its heyday and having abandoned my Playstation 2 a little while into its life for the Xbox, but even to me it feels like they’re missing some key players — not just Kat and that Emmett guy. Still, the character selection is nice. I’ve played with each of the characters — mostly Nathan Drake — and found them all to be fairly interesting with their own specific movesets that I can see someone spending a long time mastering.

Combat plays quite a bit like SSB. You have a few button-mash combos, but for the most part you’re relying on the square, triangle, and circle buttons and a directional button. Pressing triangle as Drake, for example, pulls out your AK and lets you fire off some rounds; pressing triangle-forward pulls out a badass pistol and you lay waste to whatever is in front of you. While the move list isn’t incredibly massive, you do have (maybe) as many as in Smash Brothers. It is certainly more of  a “party” fighting game than a technical one like Street Fighter or even UMVC.

That said, while games like Street Fighter rely on health bars, and while Super Smash Brothers changed things up with a percent-related damage meter, Playstation All Stars forgoes taking damage all together. That’s right: you really don’t take damage. You get hit, of course, but you can’t die from regular moves. Instead, hitting enemies rewards AP, which in turns powers your super meter: you can only kill enemies with super attacks, which have varying strengths. Drake, for example, throws a propane tank and shoots it at level one, tips over a pedestal at level two, and at three unleashes a mummy curse on your opponents, turning them into one-hit kill suckers. The supers seem a bit weird at first but you get used to them and learn to use them like you would your regular attacks. It’s a nice twist on things and helps to differentiate the game from Smash Brothers even more (something I’m sure was a conscious choice).

Sackboy sets up his third-tier super move.

The game’s solo mode is pretty ho-hum. It’s the standard arcade-fighter arcade mode where you fight progressively tougher enemies with progressively tougher rules. The enemies you face change depending on who you pick; each arcade mode (typically) opens up with your character looking for something. Drake, for example, is following a treasure map; Sweet Tooth just wants to prove himself capable outside his deathmobile ice cream truck. Your second-last fight is a one-on-one battle against your rival, which nets you a pretty cool cut-scene. Drake, for example, gets trash-talked by Sly Cooper, and Sweet Tooth suffers at the hands of Kratos. It’s a nice touch. The last battle is against the legendary Polygon Man. The last fight, unfortunately, is actually a joke — even if you found the Master Hand battles of SSB to be easy, this is even easier.

Multiplayer — offline and online — is where the game really shines and definitely what it’s meant for. It’s fun and fast and really well integrated: I’ve experienced no lag with a shoddy internet connection, both over my Vita and my PS3. There is total cross-play between the two, so you can play against your PS3 friends on your Vita without issue. It’s actually really well integrated and a welcome relief. I’ve also had no issue finding people to play against, which was also very welcome.

Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is easily one of the best fighter games to grace the world in recent years. It’s well thought out, very well balanced, and features a very respectable list of characters. It’s easy to get into and fun to play. And while it doesn’t do single player incredibly well (show me a fighting game that does, though), its multiplayer modes more than make up for it.

What do you think? Like the idea? Play the game? Still unsure? Leave a comment! Discuss!

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